Humility imparts the wonders of nature: a virtue-ethical elaboration of some Michael Bonnett’s thoughts

Jani Pulkki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


An attitude of (1) metaphysics of mastery is a major ecological problem accompanied with (2) scientism, which considers all reality is understood with one form of knowledge acquisition, that of classical experimental science. In this article, I consider the two ideas of Michael Bonnett from a virtue ethical perspective. I propose that metaphysics of mastery and scientism are virtue ethical problems of hubris. Modern hubris considers everything a resource for human use without asking for permission. I also claim humility is usually conceived incorrectly, as self-abasement and poor self-worth in a hierarchical relationship between the higher and the lower. A non-hierarchical idea of humility is proposed instead. Humility, this way conceived, is the proper evaluation of oneself. On the other hand, humility is a virtue and a way to unlearn the metaphysics of mastery and scientism. Humility also enables learning a friendlier and more realistic relation to nature. Without self-abasing humility or the self-absorbed pride of the Western subject, we can see reality in more truthful ways. This means seeing both the ecological havoc and the wonder and awe of nature in a fruitful way for environmental education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)852-862
Issue number6
Early online date7 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • environmental education
  • Environmental philosophy
  • philosophy of education
  • ecosocial philosophy of education
  • virtue ethics
  • moral education
  • humility
  • environmental virtue ethics

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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